December 30, 2012

Project Life 2013

I have been a huge fan of the Project Life community for a couple of years now, and love seeing creative ways that people use this project. Love the format, and flexibility, and colors, but the stumbling block for me has always been the physicality of the entire thing.

For several years now I have been getting rid of paper, and doing most of my creative projects digitally. Yes, I still love paper and journals, and have a stash that will last me for a while. But when I look at all those physical albums that Project Lifers accumulate, I just can't do it. The only time I make physical photo albums these days is when I make gifts for my nieces and nephews. These albums are small and fun, and the kids love them. But I no longer want or need physical albums around. They are bulky and not portable. I still have dreams of chucking it all and running away, and need to be able to travel light.

Then I had a light bulb moment. Why not do this digitally? After all, I did participate in the December Daily project several years ago digitally and loved it. No fuss, no muss. And so very portable. So the investigation began. Would I have to create my own templates, etc? Did a quick web search and found there was lots going on digitally already. Like I said, this is one passionate community.

So here is where I am at. I found and bought ONE layered template. The one called Project Life - Template Design A. That cost me $2. And by the way people, Template Design D is simply Template Design A rotated 90 degrees. So save that extra two bucks for some chocolate and rotate. No, not you, the template. I use Photoshop Elements 9, but you could do this with any variety of free software out there.

Next steps? A lesson learned from the December Daily project is "preparation is an indicator of success". So here are my steps: (I've linked to relevant supplies below)

  1. Decided to use Template Design A as my foundation. I can always rotate if the urge arises.
  2. Decided on a background for my pages for the year. Also a freebie.
  3. Decided to create a two-page spread per week.
  4. Decided that my weeks would run Monday to Sunday. This took much longer to decide than I would have thought. There are pros and cons. Anyway, I digress.
  5. Decided not to buy the digital kits - the paper, journaling blocks, etc. While I do like some of them, did not love any enough to buy them. Also have my own digital stash waiting to be plundered.
  6. Explored sites like Pinterest, etc and found lots of lovely items designed specifically for Project Life and available for free. So downloaded those that caught my eye.
  7. Organized my digital work space so I can easily find what I need.
So, the unveiling. For the total cost of $2, this will be my foundation page for 2013. I am so excited to begin. If you are a Project Lifer, let me know. Would love to see your pages.

Relevant links:

December 28, 2012

Recent Reads

130. The Red Tree
I love everything about this picture book. I'd recommend reading it slowly, and really looking at the wonderful art. Put it aside and let it soak in. And then read it again. And again. Shaun Tan is rapidly becoming one of my fave authors. Rating: 5 stars.

131. Alif the Unseen
Technically I'd give this book 2.5 stars. This urban fantasy has all the right ingredients. A philosophical exploration of faith, and security, and hackers, and oppressive regimes, and forbidden love, and Djinn. However I was not sucked into the story, and I thought the characters rather tepid - even the Djinn! Rating: 3 stars.

132. The Nutcracker
I read the Eyewitness version illustrated by James Mayhew in preparation for seeing the ballet this week. Having not grown up in the US (or Europe for that matter), this is a story I do not know. Actually I had heard it was a children's story where toys came alive, but no-one said anything about mice! I used to think that the iconic image of the nutcracker was a toy soldier. In my defense, I did mention that I grew up on the equator right? Having no childhood memories to fall back on, I found the fable an OK read, but am ever so glad I did. Now when mice burst out on the stage of the ballet I won't be so puzzled.  Rating: 2 stars.

133. The Alexander Cipher
I am a fan of Alexander, so thought this would be fun archaeological/good guys/bad guys romp. After listening to 4 hours of the audio version have decided to call it quits. I found the writing rather formulaic, and don't get even me started on the women characters. Life is too short for bad books. Rating: 1 star.

134. poemcrazy
I'm not a huge fan of poetry. Had a teacher drain all the joy out of poems for me when I was a wee one. However, I am slowly finding my way back. This book is a fun creative tool for people who love words. Yes, there are lessons on how to put those words into poems, but it is the word play that hooked me. Love the idea of word banks. Interspersed with the lessons are anecdotes from the author's life and classes. And while I might not be rushing to my desk to write a poem, reading this book has clearly improved my personal journaling. Rating: 4 stars.

135. Lost & Found

This picture book collects three stories by the author: The Red Tree, The Lost Thing, and The Rabbits. The Red Tree is my fave. The art consists of lovely paintings and collages that would actually stand quite well on their own. With deceptively simple text, these stories explore depression and what is lost and gained as we grow up, and when cultures clash. Rating: 4 stars.

December 27, 2012

Vegas Travel Journal

One of the fun things about travel for me is making and filling a travel journal. I realized today that I had not shared a video flip of my completed Bound for Vegas journal that I kept during a family visit in Dec 2011.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

December 26, 2012

Jessica Sprague's Photoshop Friday Tutorials

Hello my Chikadees. A heads up that the Photoshop Friday Tutorial Series self-paced class is on sale.

Works for both PSE and full versions of CS. I use PSE, and that software is like an onion. I keep peeling back layer upon layer, and am still so far from knowing it all. So while I impressed myself yesterday by creating my very first reusable layered template (whoo hoo!), there is always more I want to learn. You can see more about this class here. The deal expires Dec 31.

EDIT: Having just run through all 52 classes in the past week or so, I would highly recommend this class. So many things make sense now. Can't wait to put what I've learned to creative use.

December 24, 2012

Twas the night before Christmas

It is a busy time of year, so Santa recruits all the help he can get. No volunteers are turned away.
Many moons ago, we decided to take trips instead of buying presents. Wise beyond our years I tell you. Not only are the holidays stress free, we gift each other adventures, stories, and new experiences. And that is not something I can buy in a store. And is certainly not made in China (though a trip to China would be lovely). Cannot think what would be more precious to me.

Wishing you and yours a happy and safe holiday season.

December 23, 2012

Journal page

So looks like we survived the end of the world. For now. Am loving being home. Have several creative fires burning and will share soon. On another note, remember how I wanted to give my brain a workout so signed up for that online Astronomy class? Well, people I am here to tell you that my brain is all pumped up. Almost feels like it is busting out of my skull. That is how pumped up it is. And you know what? I notice a difference in problem solving - things are just firing better. Guess that old adage, if you don't use it you loose it, is dead on.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and watercolors.
Thanks for checking in. Happy Holidays.

December 22, 2012

Bach's Christmas Oratorio

Since we are home for the holidays, we are doing holiday things about town. Recently we attended the Handel and Haydn Society's Bach Christmas Oratorio at Jordan Hall.
Program notes: "Embrace the holidays with H&H’s annual Bach Christmas celebration, featuring three cantatas from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Audience favorite John Finney, Associate Conductor and Chorusmaster, leads the Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus in a moving rendition of this holiday treasure."
The acoustics at NEC's Jordan Hall are superb. I didn't even realize how muddy sound from most events were until I heard this concert. And because it was not a huge orchestra, I could hear the notes from each period instrument clearly. Such a wonderful way to ring in the holiday season.

December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice

We are celebrating the winter solstice here at 42 degrees North. The longest night of the year, so there will be a roaring fire tonight to help keep the darkness at bay. It is also the end of the Mayan calendar. No worries, here is what might have happened.
(Via Robert Perez)

December 20, 2012

Journal page

While browsing the magazine shelves at the bookstore, stumbled upon Hi-Fructose. The magazine showcased some really funky and talented artists. One that captivated me was Audrey Kawasaki. Simply love her style, and did a quick sketch of a portion of one of her paintings in my sketchbook.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and watercolors.

December 19, 2012

Recent Reads

126. Void Moon
I'm a Connelly fan, so decided to try this standalone book - no Harry Bosch, no Mickey Haller, no Jack McEvoy. The audio version is wonderfully narrated by L. J. Ganser. Set in LA and Las Vegas, this heist story involves no cops. There are really no good guys in it either, and yet you root for Cassie Black, an ex-con in a Porsche. While not on par with Connelly's best works, this is a fun book to listen to while driving about. 3 stars.

127. Drinking at the Movies
Growing up can be hard to do, especially when one does not wish to. This autobiographical graphic novel covers the high and low times of the author over a period of two years. In that time she moves from San Francisco to New York, lives in several places, and gets fired from six or seven (I lost count) jobs. The author reflects on life, her relationships with family and friends, the meaning of home and work, all while drinking at the movies, and pretty much everywhere else too. Rating: 3 stars.

128. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This YA book is a wonderful departure from all the dystopian novels that are so popular today. The story unfolds in a series of letters, and we spend a critical year with Charlie, as he learns to "participate" in his life. A lovely coming-of-age novel for the mature YA reader. As an adult reader, I looked back fondly at my younger self, and cheered her on. Finding out who you are and your place in the world is hard work, but there are moments when (hopefully) we all feel special and "infinite". Rating: 4 stars.

129. The Last Straw
My older nieces and nephew loved the Diary of A Wimpy Kid series, so am reading along with the youngest one. This is the third in the series and was not as fun as the first two in my opinion. Rating: 2 stars.

December 18, 2012

10 Books Your Relatives Are Going to Be Talking About This Holiday Season That You’ve Never Heard Of

Going home for the holidays can be stressful. We are home alone for the holidays, and it is very relaxing and peaceful around here this year. However, if you are visiting family, get ready by reading this. Made me laugh out loud.

December 17, 2012

Journal page

One of my creative goals this year was to get more comfortable sketching faces. Check. And while they might not be the most flattering of portraits, I think I capture the essence of what I see. Lots more practice required, but am making progress.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and markers.

December 15, 2012

School Shooting in CT

The news of the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, CT yesterday rocked me. The gunman killed 26 people, 20 of them children. Yes we are a nation reeling at this news, but will we do anything to prevent this from happening again?

December 14, 2012

Recent Reads

121. The Arrival
This wordless graphic novel is beautifully illustrated, and wonderfully depicts the universality of the immigrant experience. Rating: 4 stars.

122. Digital Art Wonderland
This book covers step by step instructions on how to create many layered digital collages. While I found that information useful, the collages created in the book are just not to my taste. Rating: 2 stars.

123. The Snow Child
Can you wish for something so fiercely that you wish it into existence? This fairy tale set in Alaska is told in three parts, and starts out strong. I really liked part one, but the rest of the story was one I did not find compelling. I did however really enjoy the relationship dynamics in the book. Rating: 3 stars.

124. The Power of Habit
Don't you just love when books change your mental maps, and you see things in a different light? This book is a fascinating look into personal and organizational habits. In a nutshell, the habit loop consists of a cue, the routine, a reward, and belief that change is possible. No, that is not a spoiler - the case studies in this book alone make it worth the read. And while the author touches on how to change "bad" habits, this is not a self help book. The audio version I listened to was narrated by Mike Chamberlain, and his reading detracted from my enjoyment of the book, though the subject matter was compelling enough that I pushed through to the end. Rating: 4 stars.

125. Journal Fodder 365
As person who has kept a visual journal for years, I found the art prompts rather basic. The most interesting part of this book for me were the writing prompts. If however, you are new to visual journaling, and that blank white page freaks you out, this would be a good book for you. Rating: 3 stars.

December 13, 2012

Journal page

There is much fun that one can have with stuffed animals, as can be seen from yesterday's post. I've got a thing for elephants. When my nephew was very little, he had a stuffed elephant and carried it around everywhere. He could not say elephant, so "ella" it was.
(Click on image to enlarge)
I like listening to audio books, music or podcasts while sketching. A fun way to use both sides of my brain. Pen and markers.

December 12, 2012

Astronomy Class Update

Do you remember that 9-week Astronomy class I'm taking online? We are into Week 3, and I am learning a lot. Things are getting connected in ways that make so much sense. And best of all, my brain is getting a great workout. Love that.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Study and homework time in our house is very intense. Need to add more brain food into the mix!

December 11, 2012

Journal page

There are times when I'm as prickly as a hedgehog. Lots of sharp edges. When that happens I can tell that I need some time alone. I turn off all input and go quiet.
(Click on image to enlarge)
This journal page captures my sharp edges. I find that sketching and color soothes me, and pretty soon I'm back to myself. Pen and markers.

December 10, 2012

Recent Reads

117. Sandman, Vol 10: The Wake
The finale of the Sandman series was a bit of a let down. I have loved this series, but this one did not grab me. Rating: 2 stars.

118. New York Drawings
This is a fun book to flip through. The author captures scenes that are quintessentially New York and has a style that I really like. I liked the juxtaposition of finished, published drawings with sketchbook ones. I would have rated the book higher if there was more insight into the drawings - what attracted his attention to a particular scene for example. Rating: 3 stars.

119. Flight Behavior
I am a fan of the author, and have read all but one of her books. As expected, the writing is luscious, and her insights into human nature dead on. I liked the book overall, however the story itself did not pull me in, and dragged in parts. Rating: 3 stars.

120. The Innocent
I listened to this audio book (narrated by Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy) on a long road trip. After seeing all the rave reviews this book got, I am simply astounded. I found the characters one-dimensional, the dialogue uninspired, and the plot rather weak. I would not have finished it if I had not been so road weary. Rating: 1 star.

December 9, 2012

Best of 2012

I love lists. And especially love "best of" book lists. So here are some that I'm keeping handy as I look for my next read:

New York Times Notable Children's Books 2012

New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012

Time Best of Everything 2012.

December 8, 2012

Books are the perfect gift

It is the season for gift giving, and in my humble opinion, books are the perfect gift to give, and for that matter to receive (hint, hint). Bought two this past week - one for my nephew Luke who turned 10, and one for a secret Santa book swap. Fun. For book ideas, check out this video by author John Green. I loved his book The Fault in Our Stars.

If embedded video does not play, click here.

December 7, 2012

Journal page

It is interesting how the media you use can totally change your sketching experience. Instead of my usual pen, I took out my watercolor pencils and quickly sketched a couple of people sitting in the bookstore cafe. A quick swipe with the water brush and I was done. So different from my usual style, but like it.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and watercolor pencils.

December 6, 2012

December Daily

It is that time of the year again. I toyed with whether I was going to participate in the December Daily project this year, and opted not to. I did participate in the project in 2010. It is interesting to see what has changed in a couple of years, and what has stayed the same. You can watch a video of my digital pages here:

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

For more information on the project and supplies used, click here.

December 5, 2012

Reading right now

Am currently reading Journal Fodder 365 and PoemCrazy in print, and listening to Void Moon and The Power of Habit on audio.
What are you reading right now?

December 4, 2012

Patterned paper

Am back home from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and no trip to A2 is complete without a visit to Hollander's. I could use one of everything in the store. Check out some of this patterned paper:
 Wouldn't this pack be great for a seaside vacation journal?
 Some fab black and white ones.
 Other fun designs.
They have an incredible selection, and I ended up buying some to add to my stash. Will share later.

December 3, 2012

Dumb Ways to Die

Love this PSA

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

December 1, 2012

World AIDS Day

Today, December 1, is World AIDS day. You can learn more here.

Check out this ad that I saw on Danny Gregory's blog.

November 28, 2012

Sketch Play Date [3]

Here is the final of the three pages I created on a recent sketch play date.
(Click on image to enlarge)
I love the questions kids ask. There is a honest curiosity in their questions. No ulterior-motives. Made a little friend on this sketch session. I had prepped the paper with a fluid acrylic wash. Ink, markers and acrylics.

November 27, 2012

Sketch Play Date [2]

This is page two out of three that I sketched on a recent sketch play date.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Remember those transverse and longitudinal sections of plants we used to do in Biology class? I loved doing those. The glass flowers collection at HMNM is fabulous, and I've got a thing for ovaries. Love how this page turned out. I had earlier prepped the pages with fluid acrylics and stencils for the background. Pen, markers, acrylics.

November 26, 2012

Road to A2

I love road trips. I remember the excitement of long roads trips from Mombasa to Nyeri in Kenya. My parents would pack the car with luggage, lots of tasty food, and sleepy kids. We started out before sunrise, and woke up on the road.

When you are a kid in Kenya, seeing elephants, and giraffes, and hippos, and ostriches, etc. was one of the fun things about a road trip. Another cherished tradition were our fave stops - Hunters Lodge with those glorious peacocks comes to mind.

Today was a road trip day - we drove out to Ann Arbor, Michigan. A journey of about 12 hours. We still set out before sunrise, and the car is packed with snacks, and music, and audio books. I do quick sketches in my journal - though not while driving! The wildlife consists of deer, cows, migrating geese and various birds of prey. Yes, the speed of travel is much faster than my childhood sojourns, but the level of excitement is similar. Highlights included sunrise, sunset, and snow squalls.

There is something on the human scale about car travel. Your body adjusts to the new scenery gradually. There is not that jarring shock that often arises from a plane ride of a similar duration. Though I must confess that my rump is not used to all that sitting. Am delighted to have arrived. More from the road later.

Sketch Play Date [1]

I met up with some new friends at the Harvard Natural History Museum yesterday for a sketching play date. Jaime, Anna, Alexandria and I walked around sketching what caught our fancy. We compared notes on materials and techniques - sometimes that can be the most fun part. I often spend much of my creative time alone, so really love when I can meet up with like minded people. BTW, if you have not visited this museum, and you live in the Boston area, you gotta go. Trust me. Just go. You can thank me later.
(Click here to enlarge)
Here is page one of three that I did yesterday. I had previously slapped on some fluid acrylics for a background - sometimes all that white paper can be intimidating. I could have spent all day, maybe two or three, at the mollusks exhibit. As an island girl, guess that is not really surprising. Ink, markers, watercolor pencils, and acrylics.

November 25, 2012

Life long learning

One of the wonderful things that the internet enables is online education. Love the idea and think it is going to revolutionize education around the world. You no longer need to walk into a building, you can learn from the comfort of your own home at your own pace. And free courses can reach millions who would otherwise not be able to afford an education.

So, as part of my life long learning project, I've signed up for a free course at Coursera. I learn new things all the time, but realize that there are areas that have huge gaps - astronomy being one. Yes, I could do what I always do and check out books and videos from my library and read up on the topic myself, but I've decided to try a structured learning of the material. The class I signed up for, Introduction to Astronomy, starts Nov 27 and run for 9 weeks. It is taught by a professor at DuKe University, and the course description says:

"In this class, we will be studying, quite literally, everything in the universe.  We will start with "classical" astronomy, describing the night sky and organizing what we see as was done in ancient times.  We will then embark on a journey, starting here on Earth and progressing outward, to study the Solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and the wonderful and strange objects we observe in deep space, such as black holes, quasars, and supernovae.  We will end with some discussion of what scientists know today about the universe as a whole.  Along the way we will introduce some of the methods, theoretical and experimental, that have been used to understand all of this, from Newton's laws, through our understanding of light and matter, to Einstein's theory of relativity, and from Galileo's telescope to WMAP."

Sounds fascinating no? This will be my first experience with Coursera, though have already signed up for another class that starts up in Feburary. More on that later.

Have you jumped on the online education train? What courses are you taking?

November 24, 2012

Recent Reads

113. Daytripper
We don't remember days, we remember moments. Why are some moments more significant than others? Is it because we paid more attention? This wonderful graphic novel explores the big questions - Who are we? What is our origin mythology? Who are these strangers we call family? How varied are the lives that we might live? The book explores these themes as short stories of alternate realities. Beautifully illustrated, and wonderfully nuanced writing. Rating: 4 stars.

114. Still Life With Crows
My fave FBI agent is out in the Kansas cornfields chasing a serial killer. A very different setting than the usual NYC one. I really like the Pendergast series, but was not impressed with this one at all. Realized after I finished the audio (wonderfully narrated by Rene Aberjonois), that I was listening to an abridged version. 6 hours versus 16 hours might make a difference in the story flow I think. Sigh. What exactly is the point of abridged versions again? Rating: 2 stars.

115. The Handmaid's Tale
This book has been giving me nightmares. The writing is incredible - though I'm going to have to re-read it I think - was distracted by the actual story to pause and let the writing soak in. A fascinating, and creepy, and disturbing story, and yet so believable, down to your very bones. Hence the nightmares. Rating: 5 stars.

116. Le Road Trip
This is a wonderful book for armchair travel. Make a fire, brew a pot of tea, pick a pastry, and settle in for a fun couple of hours. This illustrated travel journal reflects on the highs and lows of travel and love. A fun romp through parts of France. Rating: 4 stars

November 23, 2012


As we, here in the US, celebrate Thanksgiving weekend, I'm spending Black Friday marching to the beat of a different drummer. No traffic jams, and shopping malls, and rude, unhappy people for me.

I am thankful that there is really nothing that I need. Sure there are things that I want, but how often do we take the time to consider all that we already have?

If you recall a post from earlier this month, I'm following along with Deepak Chopra's 21-Day Meditation Challenge. I can honestly say that my brain is being re-wired. And in a good way. Now, don't get me wrong - my monkey mind still comes out to play and throw things about - but as a whole, I am a better person for it. If you are doing the challenge too I'd love to hear your thoughts.

So today I am thankful. For loved ones. For friends. For health. For having everything I need. For beauty. For nature. For great books. And for you. You out there in the blog-o-sphere, who check in regularly  who leave comments, who inspire me each and every day with your creativeness, and grit, and generosity  Thank you. Or as my peeps say, asante sana.

November 22, 2012

Journal page

Don't these black boxes look like TVs? I saw this ancient piece of art in a museum in Turkey and was captivated with it. This is my interpretation of the piece. Wonder if the ancients predicted TVs. And that with thousands of channels there would be almost nothing worth watching.
Pen and watercolors.

November 21, 2012

Remember This

Art journaling is one of my fave things to do with my nieces.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Digital supplies: layered template and png file from Ali Edwards; papers from Katie Pertiet.

November 20, 2012

World Book Night 2013

I love this program and have selected my books already. Are you a giver?
You can learn more here.

November 19, 2012

The sugar hill

Remember how I recently said that I was listening to something that was blowing my mind? It is about the latest research on sugar. I've been paying attention to sugar for a couple of years now. Started by removing easy sources - white foods, sweets, candy, etc. And I notice a difference. My system burns cleaner. I feel better. I have more clarity. I'm not yet at the point where I eschew sugar all together, but my friends, I think I am slowing inching my way in that direction. You can listen to Steve Gibson talk about his experience with the sugar hill here.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and watercolors.

November 18, 2012

Top 10 lies in online dating

From everything I hear about online dating, it is a jungle out there. But it would never occur to me that someone would lie about loving museums!

"If everyone who says they 'love museums' and 'go to them all the time' were telling the truth, every museum in the world would look like Walmart on Black Friday," says Vice's Brian Moylan. Daters run the risk of sounding boring if they have only a couple hobbies, so many "interests" are exaggerated.

Click here to see the other top 10 lies.

November 17, 2012

Journal page

I love graphic novels. They sure have come a long way from the comics I used to read as a kid.
(Click on image to enlarge)
It is always fun to try sketches from a book. Style is such a personal thing. Ink and markers.

November 16, 2012

Play Date

Had my nephews Luke and Jonah over for a play date recently, and we lucked out with a really mild day. Luke is almost 10. Jonah almost 8. They grow up so fast.
Activities included a 3 mile walk in the park, shooting bows and arrows, learning how to use crossbows, soccer drills, and table tennis competitions. Being an aunt is one of my fave, fave things. Love these boys.

November 15, 2012

Journal page

There is something wonderful about abstract art. Everytime I look at this wood sculpture, I see something different. Sometimes it looks like a woman, other times a cat, or some Egyptian artifact.
(Click on image to enlarge)
A quick sketch while watching a good game between the Pats and Bills. I need something to do during all those commercials. When you don't watch much TV, they seem interminable. Pen and watercolors.

November 14, 2012

Reading right now

So many books, so little time.
Am currently reading The Handmaid's Tale on my nook, The Wake, and Le Road Trip in print. Each of these is so different from the other, and yet each so good in their own way. Need to pick my next audio book. What are you reading right now? Anything good?

November 13, 2012

Journal page

When I don't feel well, I take out my journal and paints and play. It always lifts my spirits. Feeling much better today. How wonderful a feeling that is.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and watercolors

November 11, 2012

Recent Reads

109. Gone Girl
This was probably the most hyped book this summer, so I waited until all the noise died down before I started it. Expectations can be set too high. I listened to the audio version, which was wonderfully narrated by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne.

Gone Girl is the story of two of the most unlikable, selfish, dysfunctional, and narcissistic people I think I have ever read in literature. On the day of their 5th anniversary, the wife goes missing. And the ride begins. The pace is good, and the author makes some clever observations of human nature, but on the whole I don't think I would have finished this book if I had been reading it in print. The audio however is an enjoyable, if disturbing, ride. Am glad to have their voices out of my head. Rating: 3 stars.

110. A Storm of Swords
This is book #3 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Oh, the twists and turns of this story. I find myself struggling not to get too attached to characters. And failing. And find myself talking aloud to characters. And saying no, no, noooooo.

Winter is coming! Rating: 4 stars.

I read the Urban Sketchers blog, where you get to see the world, one sketch at a time. The book has wonderful sketches from artists around the world, and is chock-full of tips, advice and inspiration. Makes me want to sketch everything in sight. I loved everything about this book. Rating: 5 stars.

112. 1493
I loved the first half of this book, but have gotten bogged down on the second half. Might come back to it - it is really wonderfully narrated. But putting it aside in my DNF pile for now.

November 10, 2012

A sign of the times

What does it say about our times when even dogs have anxiety?
And how does this help exactly? Does it feel like a tight hug?

November 9, 2012


Been under the weather the past several days. Throwing in the towel and going to see the doc today. My lungs are not sounding good. Funny how art work can be foreshadowing. These sketches reflect exactly how I feel.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and watercolors.

November 7, 2012

Play Date

We had my nephews over for a play date yesterday.

It was election day, so we went in to vote. No lines at all in our town. The kids were fascinated by the entire process. We discussed who they would vote for if they could, and also talked about the pros and cons of the three ballot questions. Our civic duty done, we spent the rest of the day discussing books, going for a walk, climbing trees, making a fire, and playing monopoly. And before we knew it, it was time for them to go home. Good thing we have another play date scheduled for next week.

November 6, 2012

Journal page

The thing about aging, is that it beats the alternative. Popular culture seems to demand that we spend loads of time, and money pretending to be young. Like somehow we will cheat time. I for one do not buy into this notion. Age as gracefully as possible - that is my motto. And if that means that I now have to dangle reading glasses around my neck, so I'm not constantly looking for them, so be it.
(Click on image to enlarge)
There is something wonderful about faces with character. Pencil and watercolors.

November 5, 2012

Reading right now

I've got several books going right now. A Storm of Swords on my nook, 1493 on audio (iPod), The Art of Urban Sketching in print, and I dip into A Passion for Books on my nook every now and then.
What are you reading right now? Anything good?

November 4, 2012

Turkey Travel Journal

Here is a short video of my completed Turkey Travel Journal.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.
Click here to see how I make this type of journal.

November 3, 2012

Bellagio Collage

A family tradition when I'm in Las Vegas is a visit to the Bellagio. We admire the creative works of art in the botanical garden, and then proceed to sample the edible works of art at Jean-Philippe. Yummy.
(Click in image to enlarge)

November 2, 2012

Hello November

I love the start of each month. It is a time to reflect on the months past, and set goals for the months to come.

As part of my goals for this month, I have signed up for a 21 day meditation challenge. Starting Nov 5. Care to join me? Learn more about this free program here. 

November 1, 2012

Trick or Treat

And just like that another month has flown by. Am holding on for dear life. Need to spend more time running or meditating - time always seem to move at a crawl then.

I love quaint American traditions - like Halloween - where kids dress up and walk up to strangers homes and ask for candy. I mean think about that for a moment. Do kids really need to be given more sugar? Well, kids aside, I'm getting smarter in my old age. Bought way less candy, so was left with only five at the end of the night. Better than having bags of the stuff that I constantly have to pit my non-existent willpower against.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Spent some time at my local book store with hot tea, magazines, and my journal. Sketched images that caught my eye and then made them my own. Added the watercolor at home while listening to something that is blowing my mind. Will share soon.

October 31, 2012


Damages from Sandy are estimated at $20 Billion. Millions of people are still without power. Many have lost their homes and loved ones.
(Via AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
I am grateful that we fared well, and am delighted to see that yellow ball in the sky this morning. With climate change is this more of what we can expect to see?

October 30, 2012

Fake Hurricane Sandy Photos

The worst of the storm has past, and we are fine. So many others are not. 25% of our town had no power this morning. There are trees uprooted in the neighborhood, and most of the leaves are down, but there is still a surprising amount holding on for dear life.

I am fascinated by how social media makes urban legends spread like wildfire. Do people actually check their sources before they post? Check out this article to see some of the junk that circulated.

Recent Reads

106. Graceling
It is always fun to find books with strong girl characters, and this YA book is an enjoyable read. A coming of age, and sexual awakening story. I especially liked the exploration of how to be in a relationship without losing yourself. I plan to read the other two in the trilogy. Rating: 3/5 stars.

I was looking for a thriller/page turner for a trip, but was disappointed by this one. The story has interesting ingredients - Egyptology, treasure hunt, near death experiences, etc, but the plot was plodding, and the characters one dimensional. Rating: 1.5/5 stars.

My 10 year old niece Bella is reading this for book club, so decided to read it at the same time so we could discuss it as well.

I am a Gaiman fan, so was expecting to love this book. Did not. Loved the premise - it takes a graveyard to raise a child - but I think my issue with the book is that it really is a collection of short stories, and I'm not a fan of short stories. The imagination and language is pure Gaiman, but I did not get swept away by the story. Rating: 3/5 stars.

October 29, 2012

Oregon Collage

We are as ready as we can be for Hurricane Sandy. We certainly expect to lose power, so in the meanwhile am playing with photos.
This collage captures the essence of the fun ramblings with my sister.

Hello Sandy

Look at the size of Hurricane Sandy! The eastern portion of the US has been on high alert since Friday. Landfall is not expected until later today, but we've been feeling her effects for the past 24 hours.
Here in the Boston area, we are hunkered down and waiting to see if she'll play nice or not.

October 28, 2012

Oregon Rambles Pics

Home again, and finally in the right time zone. Am slowly sorting through photos and videos from the trip. Love this mural I found on a Portland street.
Had a fun time catching up with my sister. You can see some of the pics from our rambles here.

October 27, 2012


A nice day for the Boston Book Festival. Every session so far has been in wonderful old churches. This is a view of the Old South Sanctuary where I'm waiting for the Graphic Novels session to start.

October 26, 2012


We are battening down for Hurricane Sandy. The boat is in the winter slip, and the goal today is to reduce her windage and put on storm lines. Doesn't it figure that today would be a fab sailing day?

October 25, 2012

Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life

When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience -- and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.

Click her to see her fascinating talk, and don't forget to play along.

October 22, 2012

Family in Vegas

I've been hanging out with my brother and his family in Las Vegas. It has been wonderful catching up. Heading home tomorrow. Feels like I've been away from home for a long time.

October 20, 2012

Something borrowed

Kids grow up so dang fast. Am loving spending time with my nieces. They ask such great questions. And guess what? I was able to borrow shoes from one of them. How fun. Check out our footwear for this evening.


My nieces are the next generation of swimmers in our family. Watching them doing drills reminds me of so many fun years of swimming competitively as a kid.
Attended a meet earlier today. Here are my lovelies before their heats. Love these girls. 

October 18, 2012

Journal page

Journaling while traveling is a fun way to spend time while waiting. And there is lots of waiting to be done. I find the movement of a pen and brush soothing.

October 17, 2012

Window seat

Leaving Oregon for Nevada via California. It is a lovely day to fly.